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FIRE STORM
More than 40 detained in Chile for spreading forest fires
by Staff Writers
Santiago (AFP) Jan 29, 2017


Death toll climbs to 11 in Chile forest fires
Santiago (AFP) Jan 28, 2017 - Forest fires ravaging southern Chile have now killed 11 people, President Michelle Bachelet said Saturday, as firefighters waged an all-out battle to extinguish the raging infernos.

Bachelet told reporters that more than 9,000 firefighters and other responders have been enlisted to battle the fires, which have destroyed almost 1.2 million acres (480,000 hectares) in seven regions of the South American nation.

"We are fighting the fire without pause and without precedent," Bachelet declared.

More than 4,500 volunteer firefighters and members of the country's national forest brigades plus some 4,600 police officers and other public officials are battling the blaze.

The fires have forced more than two thousand people into shelters, and have damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 dwellings.

Among the countries that have dispatched aid to help put out the infernos are Argentina, Spain, France, Portugal and Mexico.

A Russian aircraft with a 42-ton water-carrying capacity is due to arrive on Sunday, while Brazil and Peru were also expected to send firefighting aircraft.

According to the latest report by Chile's national forest service, Conaf, there are a total of 110 separate fires, 50 of which are under control, while 60 are still being fought.

Fires are common in Chile's parched forests during the southern hemisphere's summer. Most are caused by human activity. More than 35 people have been arrested and accused of playing a role in starting or propagation the fires.

Fire activity this year was worse than usual because of a drought attributed by environmentalists to climate change.

Authorities have detained 43 people suspected of stoking some of the deadly Chilean forest fires that have killed 11 people and destroyed large swaths of land, President Michelle Bachelet said Sunday.

For nearly two weeks, fires have raged across seven regions in south and central Chile, devastating more than 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres), Bachelet said in her latest update on the tragedy.

She added that 43 people had been detained "for their possible responsibility in the forest fires."

Most of the suspects were apprehended in the hardest-hit regions of O'Higgins, Maule and Biobio. They could face a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Of the 130 active forest fires, 50 are under control while 66 others are still being battled, officials said.

The Chilean government is distributing aid to those affected by the blaze, most of whom are farmers and ranchers whose homes, animals and land has been destroyed.

More than 11,000 people are working to extinguish the fires, including members of the military, police, public officials and residents.

Of these, more than a half have come from abroad to help with what Chile has called the largest emergency operation in its history.

Fires are common in Chile's parched forests during the southern hemisphere's summer. Most are caused by human activity. More than 35 people have been arrested and accused of playing a role in starting or propagation the fires.

Fire activity this year was worse than usual because of a drought attributed by environmentalists to climate change.


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Previous Report
FIRE STORM
Chile wildfires kill 10 people: president
Santiago (AFP) Jan 26, 2017
Raging forest fires in central Chile have killed 10 people, displaced thousands and destroyed entire villages, the government said Thursday. Multiple blazes fueled by strong wind and drought conditions have ravaged 273,000 hectares (680,000 acres) in just over a week. The latest fatality was a fireman killed when a tree fell on his truck in the Biobio region 550 kilometers (340 miles) so ... read more


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